After the first Tomb Raider reboot surprised me by being an awkwardly violent and fun roller coaster ride, Rise of the Tomb Raider turned out to be Tomb Raider without the gore, but bloated to the brim with unnecessary, unfun stuff to do, as is custom these days. Continue reading “Review: Rise of the Tomb Raider”
I played through Tomb Raider by accident. It’s a game about killing, climbing and grabbing ledges in the last second. I was never a big fan of the original series, but the recent Uncharted-like reboot intrigued me and for some reason it became dirt cheap quick, which I don’t understand because I think the game is great (spoiler!). Naturally that meant it was doomed to live a life of sad abandon in my game collection, until recently a monthly subscription of a popular bundle provider, who shall remain unnamed, teased me with the second game in the series. Ten hours later, I am writing this. Continue reading “Review: Tomb Raider”
I’ve done it. I’ve played the last Assassin’s Creed of my collection long enough (about 8 hours) for it to feel like a chore (again) and after I write these words I hope I’m done with the series for good. Hurray! Who would have thought that writing on a regular basis could feel like actual work? Continue reading “Impression: Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag”
To build your mountain of shame you cannot solely rely on bundle purchases and the forgetfulness of the elderly. You have to use any means necessary to pile up that shameful heap of untouched games. Let me introduce you to another effective way to add to your suffering, to increase the soul crushing guilt, to have your hopes and dreams violently ripped from your tiny game loving heart: free giveaways! To celebrate its 30th birthday and the 300th iteration of the same open-world game since 1947, Ubisoft gave away a bunch of games. Guess who showed up just in time like a fat monkey demanding its banana. It’s a game you don’t care for, you wouldn’t buy it on a 99% Steam sale, but yet as soon as they dangle that banana in front of your face, your monkey brain goes tilt and you click that download button like the entitled feeling primate that you are.
‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’ is an insane open-world stealth game and much more. It’s also incredible that despite its flaws it’s still such a great game. A weird combination of 80s action movie, bad writing and utter madness, enhanced by something that is either a great sense of humor or me being ignorant of Japanese culture. It’s also a very impractical game if you want to write a blog about video games because even by concentrating solely on the story missions it took me about 35 hours to finish it.
In ‘Metal Gear Solid V’ you play as Punished “Venom” Snake aka Big Boss. Most of the time you ride a horse called D-Horse through some versions of 1980s Afghanistan and Central Africa. You are the leader of the adorably named ‘Diamond Dogs’ band of mercenaries and besides managing your off-shore private army base, you mainly visit afore mentioned conflict zones and decide whether you sneakily sedate and extract or less sneakily shoot and kill everyone and anything you meet. Wild animals hate you. Continue reading “Review: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain”
I never really understood the appeal of the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ series. The third person stick ’em all looked great at its release and the climbing animations in combination with the resulting view were astonishing. Then I realized that that’s basically all there is to it so I very soon tossed it onto the mountain of shame (it was actually just a very big pile back then) and because it happened in the dark ages I sold the disc, which saves me from having to talk about the first entry of the series any further. I can’t sell any of the other ‘Ass Creeds’ I bought. Damn you, digital distribution!
The series stayed very popular among the masses so I was wondering whether I might have misjudged it back then (because you can always trust the masses), or whether it just became a better game through it’s many incarnations. I read that ‘Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood’ was supposed to be among the better entries of the series so when I had the chance to grab it for cheap, I did. Damn you, curiosity! Continue reading “Impression: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood”
‘Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands’ lets you play as your favorite American superhuman who brings peace and stability to a third world country by killing a lot of brown skinned young men. I like that it’s 80s action movie old school in making drugs the excuse for your mass murdering instead of terrorism.
Racist stereotypes in computer games are nothing new (look at every Call of Duty game for example) and a solid part of pop culture (look at every Hollywood movie for example), but Ubisoft really have outdone themselves with Bolivia. More than half of Ubisoft’s Bolivia’s population are made up by wife-beater wearing young men armed to their teeth. The rest are corrupt police men and some clichéd indigenous civilians who can cost you your mission if you kill them by accident. Ubisoft want to make clear that they only support mass murder on the people that deserve it. It doesn’t help that everyone has the tendency to jump in front of your car.
I promise I will be back to games I am surprised by and/or ashamed of owning, soon, but first let me tell you about ‘Prey’ (the new one). ‘Prey’ is another very recent game I threw upon the top of the mountain just to take it off again and I did so with great pleasure.
I bought the game on the following info: first person perspective, space station. People seemed to like it. As with ‘What Remains of Edith Finch‘ I read that the game is best experienced without knowing too much about it beforehand and I now agree with that advice. If you thinking about playing ‘Prey’ and you get triggered by the same words as I do, you should probably stop reading and buy the game.
Alpha Protocol is a half-finished spy RPG with very simple stealth mechanics and crappy combat controls. I enjoyed it a lot.
The thing I liked most about Alpha Protocol is that it cared about story first, and everything you did fit right into it, most of the time, at least in it’s slightly crazy over-the-top (somewhere between Bourne and Bond) spy setting. There was always something happening, and while the stealth and combat system weren’t great, at least they didn’t get in the way. I chose a stealthy character and after a few levels my recruit was able to murder himself through an entire building complex without being seen. If you’re looking for a great challenge, then Alpha Protocol is not for you.
If you like a game that gives you choices and the feeling that they probably would have mattered more, if the developer’s actually had time to finish their game – in that case it’s the perfect game for you.
Granted, I had forgotten who was working for/betraying whom by mid game already but I still enjoyed the well written dialog, and the sometimes cringe worthy characters (there’s a crazy hacker called ‘Heck’) of good b-movie quality. The writing went well with the looks of the game, which are fine but probably didn’t impress anyone even by 2010 standards. They even included a more than awkward sex scene, where you have to imagine the sex part.
I have read articles that criticized Alpha Protocol for having an unsympathetic main character. While I agree that Michael Thornton is basically a prick, no matter what dialog options you choose, I really enjoyed him being one. As someone who sticks his knife in other people’s necks on a daily basis, I think being an asshole is a fitting character trait. Most game ‘heroes’ are full on mass murdering sociopaths portrayed as rouges with a heart of gold. Hey, I think this is my first chance to say ‘ludonarrative dissonance‘ – Alpha Protocol doesn’t suffer from it. I guess you could try to go a non-lethal route (some NPCs don’t like it when you undo civilians or police officers), but the game doesn’t really want you to, and you’ll wade through blood of your enemies soon. By the end of the game you get a disturbing amount of ‘execute’ dialog options. ‘Spy’ is really just a euphemism for assassin in this game.
There are a lot of things that might put people off in Alpha Protocol. It’s a clunky PC-port and who ever thought of the mouse control for the hacking mini game should be stabbed. A lot of it felt unfinished or not fully fleshed out. Yes, your decisions and relationships to NPCs do matter, but not as much as you would like. There were a lot of moments, that felt like they were just placeholders, where originally something bigger had been planned. Also the dialog options are only one word per option, which sometimes makes it hard or even impossible to anticipate what exactly Thornton will do if you chose them. Chose ‘aggressive’ and instead of intimidating the guy, good old psycho Mike will grab his head an bash it on a counter. Chose ‘joking’ and instead of saying something clever, Micky will tell his girlfriend to fuck off.
Which is so like Mike. As I played the final mission a bug kept the ‘save your girlfriend’ objective lit, even though I had already passed the point where I could save her. So instead of reloading the checkpoint I played through to the end only to see a solitary Mike drive a boat into the sunset saying that now that the action is over he’s worried about getting bored. Oh Michael. Thornton is a flawed man in a flawed game, but I still am looking froward to playing him again (in about a thousand years from now, after the mountain). Next time I will play as ‘veteran’ (an option that unlocks if you played as ‘recruit’) and go full on psycho, because I think Mike is really just happy when you chose ‘execute’.
I remember reading about the first Alien Breed game in a (printed – on paper) PC-gaming-magazine – and by ‘first’ I do not mean the direct predecessor to the game, that I will be talking about shortly, but the original game released for PC in 1993. The screenshots promised a dark alien top-down-shooter full of violent action and suspense, which made it frustrating that it took me some time to get a copy of the game through the usual schoolyard connections. When I was finally able to install and launch the game on my trusty 386 (21 MHz, 2MB RAM) excitement quickly gave way to disappointment. It wasn’t what I had hoped for. The graphics and gameplay became bland and repetitive fast.
I didn’t play the first entry in the remake series, ‘Alien Breed: Evolution’, but since the first two games where released suspiciously close to each other in the same year (2010) I’m guessing the experience won’t differ that much. This is certainly the case with Alien Breed 2 and 3, which is why I decided to put them into one article. Team17 managed to transfer the series very well in the spirit of the originals. After a really nice comic intro, I quickly felt unimpressed again. The graphics are nothing to get excited about. They’re functional, which would be okay for me if they didn’t use the same mud-color palette all the way through. It all feels too familiar. Abandoned on an large space ship infested with (standard, run of the mill) aliens and some rouge AI talking too much. Which is about all the narrative we get. I felt myself reminded of Dead Space most of the time. ‘Go there to repair the bridge/reactor/door/cart that brings you to the bridge/reactor/door/cart, that you went out to repair in the first place’ – just less exciting, uglier and without the ultra violence. I realize that this is an unfair comparison because Alien Breed clearly didn’t set out to be another dead space and it’s certainly not a AAA production, but that’s what you get for being so unoriginal and having no depth at all.
I guess apart from the bland setting it’s an okay, but very superficial top-down shooter, which might keep you entertained for a short while. It probably works best as a coop experience. I probably won’t try to confirm that and instead play ‘Dead Space’ or ‘System Shock’, or even the also not very good, but still better game ‘Space Siege’. At ten Euros per game they are fairly priced, but if you buy all three entries you might feel that you bought the same game thrice.